I’ve learnt that I have been extremely fortunate in my career at JLR. I’ve never once felt I couldn’t talk about my relationship with my partner, who is also a man, openly with colleagues, and not be accepted for who I am. Sadly, this is not the same experience for everyone, which is not unique to JLR, and by engaging in the discussion in the Pride network I’ve come to realise that this experience varies drastically for the different groups within the LGBTQ+ community.
I’ve been asked by people, including my partner, why we need individual diversity groups – “…surely, we should just talk about ‘Diversity’ as a whole”. I am in agreement that we should all be more diverse and inclusive, but what I’ve learnt is that each network has its own challenges that need a different focus and who’s communities need a different type of support.
In getting to this understanding, I have had to address some of my own, previously un-recognised, prejudices. I will admit I don’t fully understand what someone who identifies as transgender feels or experiences in their life, despite both of us being in the same “Pride alphabet”. As part of my journey of discovery, I have realised that our experiences are vastly different mainly because, as a gay man in the UK, I have been fortunate that other people have taken the burden of ‘normalising’ being gay in the country I have grown up in. Other people have had to go through living with the stigma, discrimination and stood up for the rights and acceptance that I now take for granted. For my friends and colleagues who identify as Trans, this is not the case, even in this day and age – from what I have understood, we’re still a long way off creating a society in the UK where people can be their true selves, without the societal pressures and stigma that makes day to day life for our community just….hard and sometimes impossible.
I’ve been conscious to state that I’m fortunate to live in the UK. In many countries, including those that JLR operates in, LGBTQ+ identities remain to be actively discriminated against and in some countries, it continues to be illegal. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to live somewhere where I am made to feel excluded from society because of who I am.
As I have understood more about my own community, I feel even more motivated to ensure that we as a committee open up the conversation to all who want to take part in it, with the aim to make life that bit easier for people who haven’t been as fortunate as I have. The Pride committee does this by facilitating some fantastic lunch and learn events, on subjects ranging from coming out at work, to being parents of children who identify as LGBTQ+. All of which are filmed by the committee members and are available on our SharePoint site.
We also want to show that JLR is on a journey not only to our colleagues internally, but also externally. This year we have already taken part in London Pride and will be joining the Pride parade in Manchester and Birmingham. As one of the largest employers in the West Midlands, we have also agreed to sponsor the main stage at this year’s Birmingham Pride Festival. The organisation of which adds a huge amount of work to the committee members, all of whom have done an amazing job at stepping up to the challenge. We’re extremely grateful to the other teams in JLR who have got behind the plan and continue to support us in delivering what will be an amazing event – so thank you!
I hope by sharing my experience of being a member of the Pride committee over the past months, it shows the understanding that can be gained by opening up the conversation and looking at the world from other people’s perspective. It’s fascinating and enriching, if not at times challenging to self-reflect.
If you have any questions, or want to get involved, please reach out either directly to me, or to the fantastic JLR Pride committee on firstname.lastname@example.org.